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Review: Jibek Jolu's Krygyzstan Cuisine

By Minna A in Food on Sep 16, 2011 7:00PM

Cushioned in a northern corner of Lincoln Square is a truly unique restaurant, Jibek Jolu, where the menu highlights Krygyz cuisine and takes diners on a culinary tour of Central Asia.

Krygyzstan has had a rich and turbulent history of empires and leaders past, with different cultures leaving its mark in Krygyzstan’s gastronomy. Neighboring cultures, cold winters and their historically nomadic culture all play large parts in Krygyz cuisine.

Jibek Jolu prides itself on including many different culinary cultural influences, from Korean spiced salads to Chinese influenced noodles, with Russian and Krygyz art adorning the walls. Amongst the appetizers, we recommend the somosa-like Samsy appetizer and the Korean influenced carrot salad, which gives the normally sweet vegetable a spicy twist. Samsys, thematic of the nomadic culture, are pocked-sized, oven baked pastries of flaky and crispy dough encasing a hot, flavorful filling of beef and onions.

Sine Krygyzstan is so icy, many of the dishes are steamed and stewed. While the interesting descriptions on the soup list may seem enticing, we recommend that you skip the sub-par soups to head straight for the entrees. To truly experience Krygyz cuisine, waiters at Jibek Jolu will recommend that diners try the Manty or the Besbarmak.

The Manty may look not too different from Chinese dumplings, which actually draw their inspiration from a Turkish dish. The doughy dumpling shells are filled with spiced beef, seasoned with black pepper and mixed with pumpkin bits to make this dish uniquely Krygyz. They’re then steamed and served with a sour cream and garlic sauce, contrasting the rich flavors from the beef and pumpkin.

Besbarmak, a traditional Krygyz dish, is the highlight of the menu. It translates to “five fingers” as the dish is traditionally eaten with one’s hand (although we opted for a spoon). Besbarmak is served in order of importance from the most honored guest down. This dish is constructed with seasoned, diced meat sitting atop a bed of noodles and broth sprinkled with green onions, that, when combined, make a flavorful combination full of tart onion taste. The hearty broth and noodle combination gives a feeling similar to the comfort food chicken soup.

Jibek Jolu offers a rare taste of Krygyz cuisine, with a glimpse into the Central Asian cuisine that influenced the country.

Jibek Jolu is BYOB and located at 5047 N. Lincoln Ave.